Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine

Book Cover
Book Cover

I am indeed shocked by the stuff I read in Naomi Klein‘s controversial book, The Shock Doctrine. The book exposes the evils of the disaster economy – where individuals and corporations profiteer from waging war or inducing disasters to demolish nation-states, and then pilfer the countries lock, stock and barrel in the name of rebuilding them.

In layman’s terms, it’s like deliberately destroying a Lego building (the country) by kicking it (war/induced disaster) and then putting back the Lego blocks again, but this time, employing the MNCs to do the job (profiteering).

It was for this reason that many wars and attacks on the economy were waged against socialist/populist Latin American governments during the Cold War by the US. Communism was just a convenient excuse.

The Cold War occurred after the end of the World War II. This was also a period which saw the end of dynasty rule in kingdoms like China and the failure of colonialism, resulting in many new nation-states being created.

Struggle for independence is never clear-cut and cannot be simply divided into a tussle between the dichotomy of communism and capitalism. Popular, democratically supported governments were conveniently labeled “communist” by the US when they did not subscribe to the same free-for-all capitalism model.  These governments are then treated as enemies of capitalism and dealt with and toppled accordingly with the military and economic muscles of the US when essentially, they are more socialist in nature. Argentine, Peru and Chile were some of the case studies highlighted in the book.

Disaster capitalism is still alive and present today; epitomised by the George W. Bush administration – former US President Bush himself, together with his henchmen, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Together, these three greedy bastards went to war with Iraq, essentially to “shock the country into submission” and then sent in the American MNCs like Betchel, Shell and Blackwater to rob the country of it’s oil and other resources.

In view of the current economic recession, caused similarly by greed of a few, causing many to suffer. The Shock Doctrine comes particularly chilling to read with each pages. The economic recession can be seen as the self-induced disaster, with the bankers at Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, CitiGroup, etc being the perpetrators who walked away with fat bonuses via irresponsible selling of toxic products.

Naomi Klein got me thinking over the mode of operatus of the nation-states (including Singapore) – whether capitalism and total free trade is the only right way to go. Is socialism a necessary evil?

Do read this book if you are in for some thought-provoking theories. It’s not a hard book to read, given the heavy topics dealt with. It shocked me; and I am sure you will be too. 🙂

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10 thoughts on “Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine”

  1. War and conflict is essentially part of humanity – male at least – as rival political systems battle it out to determine which groups get the finacial spoils. IMO, the cold war was one of the best wars ever – few very people died compared to say the Vietnam War, WWII etc. Another book you might like is confessions of an economic hitman. Personally, I think these sorts of books can be insightful but they do oversimplify things. Capitalism may be crap, but then again have you ever been to N. Korea, Albania, or even Cuba? (where the girls are so poor they sell their bodies to “socialist” tourists from the west – how ironic!)

  2. Tom Riddle: I read John Perkins’ Confessions of An Economics Hitman too! 🙂 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confessions_of_an_Economic_Hit_Man)

    Well, the points raised by Perkins are essentially the same as those raised by Naomi Klein in The Shock Doctrine – difference being Perkins wrote from his personal experience being involved in the process to help US and large MNCs profiteer from Latin American nations while Klein wrote from a macro POV and postulated theories (the shock doctrine and disaster capitalism) to explain these phenomenons.

  3. While global capitalism is not perfect, it has lifted millions of people out of poverty, which is a better track record of anything else.

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